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19 Feb 2008 10:36
Evictions have begun at the housing development in Delft illegally occupied by backyard dwellers, the Western Cape Anti-Eviction campaign said on Tuesday morning.
A Cape High Court judge on Monday refused the more than 1Â 000 squatters leave to appeal against an earlier eviction order.
The houses are meant for residents of an informal settlement being cleared to make way for the government’s flagship Gateway housing project alongside the N2 highway.
Anti-eviction campaign spokesperson Pamela Beukes said security officials and police began moving furniture out of the Delft houses at about 6.30am on Tuesday and loading it on to trucks.
“They’ve taken a couple of people’s stuff away on the trucks already and we don’t know where to,” she said.
“The people are being very peaceful: they’re asking ‘where are you taking our stuff to?’—and they can’t give us any reply.”
She said that after the first few evictions, people further down the line were removing their more valuable possessions from the houses and storing them in a nearby field.
They were then going back to stand in front of “their” houses to wait for the eviction.
Beukes said police were setting up razor wire around the houses which had already been cleared.
The campaign earlier appealed to Delft residents not to resort to violence.
It said it was exploring petitioning the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein against the High Court ruling. â€’ Sapa
On Monday, Judge Deon van Zyl ruled that the grounds were altogether without merit and that no other court would reach a conclusion different to his.
In the course of argument, lawyers Andre Coetzee and William Booth, acting for the occupiers, contended that the process of allocation of houses left much to be desired.
However, the judge said the process was totally irrelevant and that it could not be raised as a defence for the illegal occupation of the unfinished houses.
He said he had hoped to hear during the eviction proceedings the defence that the occupants were in lawful occupation and could thus not be evicted, but this had not been the case.
He said the fact that the allocation processes were not fair did not entitle the unlawful occupiers to take the law into their own hands.
Coetzee said the reality was that eviction would leave people homeless, but Van Zyl responded: “If they were homeless before their unlawful occupation, they will remain homeless. They chose to unlawfully occupy homes that had not even been completed yet.” - Sapa
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